The sounds of Engine 3716 chugging along the tracks, blowing steam and the whistle will once again be heard across Summerland as the Kettle Valley Steam Railway prepares for another season – once it’s safe to run.
With the 2020 season pretty much wiped out by COVID restrictions and revenues way down, maintenance costs remain high. Rail tie replacement is about $100,000 and tire replacement and repair is about $150,000, said Tom Burley, president, of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway (KVSR).
“We need your support to help cover these costs, whether it’s by riding the train, buying a membership, or making a donation,” said Burley.
The heritage train did open briefly in summer for a limited ride schedule but decided for the safety of volunteers and guests to shut operations.
Pre-pandemic, around 30,000 guests enjoy riding the rails each year, enjoying the view of orchards, vineyards, Lake Okanagan, the impressive Trout Creek trestle and of course, Engine 3716, a 109-year-old steam train.
For many guests, it’s a ride down memory lane and for many train buffs, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
Tourists came from around the corner and around the world to ride the heritage steam train. Locals couldn’t wait for the holiday trains, murder mystery and wine trains.
The ride to support Agur Lake camp is a sell-out each year. Many guests drop off food for the Food Bank during its campaign.
The Christmas trains is magical each year; the Garrnett Valley Gang and their great train robberies leave you lighter in the pocket, but happy for the memories; the Halloween trains are scary and fun; the murder trains are mysterious and the wine trains bubbly. There is the Easter train too. All of these popular events weren’t able to take place in 2020.
Even without the train running, the gift shop is open five days a week and the online store will be up and running soon. There are also electronic gift cards available for purchase via the website or at the station. These e-gift cards can be used for merchandise or future tour bookings. All of these sales will go to support the KVSR, said Burley.
The KVSR is reaching out to rail fans and history buffs throughout the Okanagan, B.C. and beyond.
“Your support over the years is appreciated. We encourage you to continue by taking a ride on the train, telling your friends and visitors about it, donating or buying from the gift shop,” Burley added.
KVR HISTORY TO TODAY:
The KVR was built between 1910 and 1916. Over 500 km of rail were laid down. By 1964, passenger service had ceased and in 1989, the last freight train rode the rails.
Today the KVR is alive again, thanks to the dedication of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway Society, a non-profit, charitable organization that welcomes memberships in order to continue the restoration of this important national historic site.
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